DPW, fire officials debate fees for sprinkler systems.
UXBRIDGE - Selectmen, the Department of Public Works director and fire officials debated fees Monday night for businesses - in particular, clubs such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars - to be assessed for water hook-ups for fire-suppression sprinkler systems. While they didn't take specific action, the selectmen, acting as water and sewer commissioners, asked DPW Director Benn Sherman to bring back more information on possible models.
Mr. Sherman said that fire-suppression hook-ups are currently calculated as $5,000 for the first one-inch of service and $1,200 for each additional half-inch, on top of the cost of actual line installation.
The fees cover maintenance and capacity improvements for the system.
He said that although it is a second hook-up fee for a building because it's a separate line connection, "The trade-off is the (lower) premiums they pay for insurance."
The VFW recently was alarmed to learn that it would cost the club $12,000 to tap into a town water line for sprinklers.
Selectman Bruce Desilets said, "My main worry is this will throw people out of business."
Fire Chief William T. Kessler said that after the fatal fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., in 2003, Massachusetts fire officials issued orders that clubs with occupancies of more than 100 had to have sprinklers.
The VFW appealed the order, saying it would be a burden, and reached an agreement with the state allowing them to separate the bar - with a capacity of less than 100 - from the rest of the club with a closed door. The door can only be kept open for certain events, with a special permit from the fire chief.
Chief Kessler said that sprinklers should be encouraged because they help contain a fire until fire crews arrive and the draw on municipal water supplies is small.
Deputy State Fire Marshal and former Uxbridge Fire Chief Peter J. Ostroskey said the town should treat the fire-suppression fee like a domestic water hook-up.
"I am going to advocate for the difference between a fire connection and a process connection. It's wise for us to remove impediments," he said.
Most sprinkler systems are low-flow, Mr. Ostroskey said. Utility hook-ups from new developments place more demand on the water system than fire suppression.